Maine law encourages parents to work out custody arrangements themselves without bringing the issue to court. If they cannot come to an agreement, courts make custody decisions based on what is in the "best interest" of the child.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan (sometimes called a parenting time schedule”) is a detailed, written agreement that sets out how divorcing parents will share legal and physical custody of their children. In Maine, parents must try to create voluntary parenting plan before their divorce is finalized. If parents cannot agree on a plan, the court may require mediation (a dispute resolution process). A parenting coordinator may also be appointed to help with the parenting plan process.

What Does the Court Consider in Assigning Custody?

Maine courts balance a series of factors when determining the best interest of a child. These factors include:

  • The child’s age,
  • The strength of the parent-child relationship,
  • The child’s need for stability,
  • The parents’ capacity and willingness to provide love, affection, and guidance,
  • The child’s connection to his or her home, school, and community,
  • If the child is less than one year old, whether the mother is breastfeeding,
  • Evidence of child abuse or spousal abuse,  
  • The child’s reasonable preference (if age appropriate), and
  • Any other relevant factors.

Gender cannot be considered when determining a child’s best interest. In a custody dispute, a guardian ad litem may be assigned to advocate for the child and help assess his or her best interests.

What Happens When the Court Has Made a Decision?

Once the parenting plan and divorce order are approved, they are filed with the court clerk. Both parents are then bound by the approved custody order and the court must approve any modification of the plan.

Should I Contact a Maine Lawyer Regarding my Custody Issues?

Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged and require a detailed understanding of the law. If you have concerns about custody and parenting time, it is important that you speak with an experienced child custody lawyer. A lawyer will help advocate for you and your child and work to secure the best possible parenting arrangement for your family.